Embrace The Difficulty Of Japanese – It’s Part Of The Appeal

Is Japanese one of the most difficult languages in the world like they say? Crossing the gap as a native English speaker to Japanese, or the reverse (native Japanese to English) is massive. The consensus is to be prepared for exponentially more hours, effort and sweat. You aren’t studying in Romance Language Land. You are in a world where intense struggle awaits…

Embrace Difficulty - Its Part Of The Appeal


That’s one of the reasons you are probably in the game in the first place.

The fact that Japanese is so unique, so difficult, not commonly studied, not commonly achieved, makes it have an appeal which has no bounds. Japanese has a special set of circumstances around it which makes it an in demand language, yet apparently so far out of reach.

And you know what happens when you beat the odds of all the reasons you are told why you probably won’t ever be able to do it? You bask in triumphant glory.

Embrace Difficulty - Its Part Of The Appeal 2

ピンチってちょっと萌えません? (Don’t you get fired up a bit when you are in a pinch?)

Everyone at some point (and multiple points after that) complains about the difficulty. Just remember, you are partially in it for that very reason. Don’t get excited about the difficult challenge and dislike it at the same time.

Catch fire in the difficulty. It makes it all worthwhile.

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Embrace The Difficulty Of Japanese – It’s Part Of The Appeal — 6 Comments

  1. My first day of school was today, and I absolutely /loved/ when I was reading Tokyo Mew Mew in class and everybody was like, YOU CAN UNDERSTAND JAPANESE?!?! :OOOO

    Of course I did the polite thing and was very humble about it, but it felt so awesome to casually throw over my shoulder, “yup.” Then explain that I can pick out grammar and certain kanji, and since TMM has all furigana, I would pick out a dialouge box or two and read it to them, and then give them the gist of what I just read. Of course, I stumbled over words, and had to pronounce some a few times over before I could say it smoothly – but no-one really cared! They thought it was amazing I could get some coherence out of those squiggly pictures. It just made all my hard work feel worth it.

    I love having the “challenge.” For one, it’s not ALWAYS a challenge – I always make sure to reflect on that often, that before this summer I could not pronounce one word of Japanese not written in romaji. And even then I might pronounce it wrong. And for another, it just fills you with so much joy when you realize – wow, all that Anki actually paid off! And people look up to you! And think, “Oh, I could never do that-” and I always tell them that /yes, you CAN!/ It feels great to motivate other people.

    So yes, the difficulty of Japanese is MOST CERTAINLY part of the appeal.

  2. Well, the difficult can be “charming” at the beginning, but when you spend years trying to even understand simple movies and you get nowhere, it feels that would be better to already be fluent in a easier language. For example, I never tried to learn Spanish and I can watch and understand modern Argentinian movies. If I were trying to learn Spanish, I would be speaking flawless by now…

    BTW: English isn’t a Romance language, it’s a West Germanic language.

    • There is absolutely no shame in spending years and years and not being understand simple movies in Japanese. It is an exceedingly difficult task after all. My suggestion, is to step back, find something you are passionate about and go and study it. If it’s not Japanese, so be it. Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy the journey.

  3. I dunno about “not commonly studied”. I feel like Japanese is quite a popular language. Not to the extend of something like English, Spanish or Chinese, of course, and maybe I’m biased, because I study Japanese and so it’s only natural that I come across lots of other students of this language.

    It’s just that very few learners seem to reach any degree of fluency, and in fact, most seem to quit at a quite early stage (but don’t quote me on that, I don’t have any data backing me up, exactly)

  4. A big part of my motivation for starting was the difficulty. I thought I’d attempt this out of sheer perversity. Now my motivation has developed after discovering the awesomeness of anime and making some Japanese friends.

  5. I always get excited when I find something new that’s ‘difficult’ about Japanese. Knowing about it is the first step for conquering it, and I will conquer it. I’ll admit, if I knew how hard it would be to learn Japanese I probably wouldn’t have bothered with it. But the only way you find out is by studying, and I’m too far in to quit, so I just embrace every new challenge.
    I’ve even looked up ‘hardest languages’ lists hoping to see Japanese there.

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